U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced three targeted pieces of legislation that would improve the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA), assist the Alaska Mental Health Trust, and reconstitute the Alaska Land Use Council. These bills reflect Murkowski’s continued efforts to protect and advance her home state’s priorities.
“The legislation I introduced today will help Alaska Native communities, improve the management of our federal lands, and facilitate a much-needed land transfer for the Alaska Mental Health Trust,” Murkowski said. “These are common-sense solutions to real issues in our state, and I am eager to advance them through the legislative process and into law.”
The following is a summary of the bills introduced by Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, is a cosponsor of all three bills. Copies of the text and additional background information on them are available on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.
- S. 3004, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Improvements Act
- This bill provides for updates and improvements to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 (ANCSA) in order to assist a variety of communities across Alaska. ANCSA, passed 45 years ago, helps Alaska Natives advance economically and was always intended to be a work in progress. This bill would amend the original Act to address issues both old and new. It would help communities from Barrow to Ketchikan, and from Shishmaref to Kaktovik. The legislation would address a number of local issues as well as broader issues such as creating urban corporations for Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee, and Haines and providing assistance to landless Native Vietnam era veterans.
- S. 3005, the Alaska Land Use Council Act
- This bill would provide for the establishment of a modernized and improved Alaska Land Use Council (ALUC). The original ALUC was established in title 12 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The original ALUC sunset in 1990, but the current relationship between the State of Alaska, residents of Alaska, and the federal land management agencies makes it clear that a constructive venue is needed to facilitate enhanced coordination and cooperation on federal land and resource management issues. The purpose of ALUC is to improve coordination, efficiency, and cooperation among federal, state, and Alaska Native Corporation and Tribal land managers in addressing land and resource issues in order to fulfill the intent of Congress to balance social, economic, and environmental considerations as required by ANILCA. Reauthorization of the Council takes into consideration numerous recommendations for improvement that were suggested in the Section 1201 reports to Congress in 1991, as well as recommendations made by Alaska stakeholders and issues raised during the Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the implementation of ANILCA held on December 3, 2015.
- S. 3006, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange Act
- The Alaska Mental Health Trust (the Trust) is a state corporation established in 1956 to administer a perpetual trust established for the benefit of Alaskans with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. For nearly a decade, the Trust has been seeking to exchange 18,066 acres of forested lands that it owns near downtown Ketchikan, Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell, Sitka, and Myers Chuck in return for an equal value (appraised) exchange of land in Ketchikan and on Prince of Wales Island near Naukati and Hollis. The bill would speed this acquisition, which the U.S. Forest Service has under consideration, with the intent of enabling the Trust to provide up to 20 million board feet of timber to support private mills in Southeast Alaska each year.
Summaries of the bills mentioned above are attached and available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.